Personal learning, a History of Little John and his Cabin #cck11 #change11

Once upon a time a little boy did not want to go to school. He did not like school.

Of course you go to school John, said his mother. And so little John in the  morning left the house, but he did not go to school. John went to the wild lands beyond the school and built a hut of branches and reeds. When school finished little John went home.

The next day he said “Mom I will not go to school today.” His mother said: “Of course you go to school.”
And the boy went to his cabin and built a kite.
He wrote in his diary and made drawings. Until it was time to go home again.

The next day Little John said nothing to his mother.
He went to his cabin and made a  door for his cabin.

He had to draw a bunny that came to his cabin.

That was hard, but he could do it.

Obviously had had no crayons.

When his cabin was finished he went to the library and got a good book.

Little John read the book in the sun in front of the hut.
Robinson Crusoe is an exciting book, and he returned home  that day almost too late.

But one day little John  came back home and his mother looked serious and said, “the teacher of school has called and asked if you really are ill. I want you to go to school tomorrow, because if you do not go to school you will learn nothing “.

I like this little story.  I would like schools to change to places of fun and learning whatever you like to do. Places where creativity and pleasure are not thrown out.

Comment on ‘Clicker’ project and on publishing #cck11 #mobiMOOC


You did publish your project in Thank you for that. In a MOOC Massive Open Online Course, publishing and sharing is an important feature. Now we are able to read your project and learn from it. And we could comment on it. Some of the participants could have good ideas to improve your project.  In sharing our knowledge and discussing our projects we all could learn.

Now I  would like to comment your project. I tried to find your name in the mobimooc google group. I could not find you there. I tried Facebook, I did find your name in FB, but I do not know if that is you. The only way to comment on your project is to send you a personal  message through the wikispaces wiki. That is not very Open, so I will send you this as a personal message and I will publish this open letter in google groups. That is because I really think openness in a Mooc is very important.

In your clickers project Moodle is used for feedback and for quizzes. Did you consider of using Twitter or other micro blogging apps to do this? Twitter is used for this purpose in universities and schools. It is much more simple to use than Moodle for this purpose. A little HTM-script on a web page will make the posts of students visible. An example of the script is on You could copy the source of the page and change the script to your purposes.

I hope you will comment on this comment.

(The flowers grow near our village, its tulips)

regards Jaap


Definitions sharpen the mind #mobiMOOC #cck11

“… The acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught while being free to move between different locations … ”  writes Jennifer Parker in her blog. She filtered out the devices and technology from the definition of O’Malley et al, 2003 (see Jennifers blog) .

As a connectivist (CCK11) I do not like the words “acquisition of knowledge”, I like to that to be “connecting to information”.

That definition  does not leave much of mobile learning.  I don’t care, for the time being.  I will try to avoid  this discussion on definition.  I want to know how it works first.

In Dutch is something called ‘didactiek’ it is ‘the art of teaching and methods and technics’. ‘Didactiek’ is not the same as didactic method.  In Dutch learning with a mobile phone would be considered a chapter in ‘didactiek’, just like learning with a book, with a overhead projector. a blackboard.

In ‘didactiek’ definitions are not important.

Changing views #cck #mobimooc

This last week of cck11 is a week of saying goodbye to all we met in this MOOC. Meeting you has been  very valuable, I thank you for sharing. Some of you will go on with mobiMOOC , we will meet again.
In this blogpost some remarks on connectivism and MOOC  and of the next things to do.

This last week is a time of reflection. The MOOC was  an adventure and an exploratory expedition. Explorations to Screencast and video, Pingback,  Portuguese language weblogs  and French tweets. Meeting people from all over the world.

In the mobiMOOC I will try to use connectivist principles to mlearning.  This blog will  continue as a mobimooc blog.

The average learning theorist is a topdown thinker, writing about “…Principles of connectivism:…” . (like most philosophers are) The theory for these theorists is of more value than the daily work in learning and teaching. This discussion on the status of connectivism as a real theory is an example of that top down thinking. “… -While it is not a serious learning theory (or let say a well-established learning theory) …”
In real sciences most people think bottom up, the daily problems are the start of thinking and looking for solutions. I would like connectivism to be a bottom up science. (Who wants to discuss the value of computer science as a theory?). So I do like a starting point in “.. the big 3 questions ..”.

The most important lessons #cck11

Unknown painting critical thinking

What I want to discover in  a connectivist approach to education is the subject of these last posts of CCK11.

Vinton G. Cerf writes on Internet Coce of Conduct a little article on Truth. On the problem of making a difference between truth and lies he writes: ”  … Let us  ….  teach our children to think more deeply about what they see and hear. That, more than any electronic filter, will build a foundation upon which truth can stand. … ” .

How does connectivism foster critical thinking?

Connecting to people is a dangerous job. Humans are very prone to group pressure, and often because of that do not think critically. All sorts of trouble come to people because of uncritical following the crowd, or that one person.  A very important lesson for our children is to learn to be independent, to think critical and to acquire  skills to connect in a sensible and critical way.

” … Students should be encouraged to learn together “while retaining individual control over their time, space, presence, activity, identity” …”  writes Debbie Kroeker. This is the connectivist paradox, connect and do not loose your autonomy. We must teach and learn to cope with these two forces of group think and be yourself. Be wise in choosing your connections.

How does connectivism prepare children to this struggle against group pressure?

An other field of concern is politics and economy ” … But how can we seriously expect that the increasing gap between the rich and the poor makes for a stable society for anyone? …” writes Leagrrl.  Living together in this world is not always easy, critical thinking is necessary.  Do not only connect to Our Kind Of People, do look over your own horizon.  Do not exclude.

Does connectivism have an answer to exclusive thinking?

Other lessons learned:  Facilitating in a M/mOOC has to be very connectivist. In my opinion facilitating must be done  by participants. A bit like shared leadership, every participant is fulfilling a facilitation role or function. These functions could be encouragement, commenting, organizing, socializing, questioning, etc.

Connectivist education and the future of children #cck11

One remarkable feature of most learning theories is the lack of  a philosophy of learning in which goals and directions of the learning is discussed. Most school systems (read: “Educational and other despair“) and educational systems just go on teaching the old and trusted courses and subjects.  And mistrust students and their new tools: “…One consistent response to this fear is to ban, filter or limit the use in school of the very tools that students are drawn to outside of school….” . (some exceptions).

The Most Important Question for teachers, parents and schools is: What must we teach and what must our children learn? In the Netherlands we see ‘canons’ of all kind.  A ‘canon’ is a list of subjects and facts, the ‘canon’  must be learned by every child.  (and tested, of course )
One example is the history ‘canon’ with  50 important  subjects.  But a canon of the future does not exist, what do we have to teach our children to learn them live in their future?  It is very difficult to make predictions, and to predict the future is almost impossible. So we cannot know what a person in 2025 has to know. Probably language will be important and technology (?)

In Connectionism “…I am looking for the pragmatic ability to peer into the future…” . Connectionism lays emphasis is on process of learning, on connections. In teaching ‘how to connect to networks of information and people’ connectionism has an answer on the Most Important Question. Because in learning how to connect to information our children receive means to cope with an unpredictable future. Connectionist teaching has to learn to connect, and to foster and maintain good connections with care.

Learning for the future is what connectivism can do. Learning to be a human, and to connect to humans and human knowledge is the core of all education.

Connected Learning #cck11

class games building

Learning is an active process. Learning is connecting information to a knowledge network in order to remember it and use it. The more connections this new information will have the better the recognition and learning. If a student is just listening the connections will be of the ‘listening kind’. And the quality of the listening is equal to the amount of connections made. If this same student is making notes the connections will be of the ‘listening kind’ and of the ‘note taking kind’. If the student afterward does copy and rewrite the notes, that will make more connections. And the quality of the rewriting is equal to the amount of connections made.  This student while listening, writing will think about the new information and will connect it to earlier knowledge. This also will connect the new information. The student will try to analyze and use the information, make a  diagram or a mindmap. Learning is connecting information in different ways with other information and knowledge.

One other view on connected learning. The walls between subjects and courses are barriers to learning. In some educational systems where every subject has a teacher)  a wide gap exists between arts and science and language. But if a student is learning to build computer games all these subjects have to be integrated. A student learning to design textile has to integrate the arts and sciences.  Every teacher and every subject has a lot to do with language. When writing an  article is a subject in language lessons, it is an artificial kind of work. When writing is a part of an assignment in another subject the writing has a natural function. Teachers of science and teachers of language should work together in schools. Team teaching is a connective way of teaching. In traditional education the student has to connect information of different courses and subjects and teachers, and nobody cares. In connected learning teachers and students will connect information from different subjects in a natural way.

Get it #cck11 Light Bulb Experience

We have ample evidence that a proportion of students do eventually “get it”. And once they complete their course and get into practice, a substantial majority get it.  But it’s not clear how we get them to get it, if you see what I mean.  We seem to be trying to teach the unteachable (the ideas, not the students). Atherton J S (2011).  Jenny Mackness blogged about this research on light bulb experiences.

I wonder if networks do make students ‘get it’ better or sooner than teachers in a classic setting? “Sitting next to Nellie” is a way of connecting to people who know and to knowledge.

For Etienne Wenger, learning is central to human identity. A primary focus of Wenger’s more recent work is on  the individual as an active participant in the practices of social communities, and in the construction of his/her identity through these communities (Wenger et. al 2004). In this context, a community of practice is a group of individuals participating in communal activity, and experiencing/continuously creating their shared identity through engaging in and contributing to the practices of their communities.

A Community of Practice  is a tight-knit social construct, and the concept of network has challenged the concept of a tight-knit social construct. Networks are loosely organized structures in which people do not necessarily collaborate or communicate directly. However, the question is what role networks play in relation to learning. A conclusion of this debate is that there exists a form of social interaction – social networking – that learning theories have difficulty explaining. More questions arise: What kind of relations support learning, and, specifically, how do networks support learning?  … Learning takes place through problem-oriented activities, in which students are directed at solving a problem or achieving a goal.

“…Within cooperative online learning a central challenge is to enable students to follow the work of their colleagues. If students are unaware of the activities of fellow students, they might not make use of each other. This problem is reinforced within online education, where students do not meet face-to-face….”  This problem in network learning has to be solved in the network. The network exists thanks to technical possibilities like social media. The possibilities of social media have to be used by students in the network to foster transparency and awareness. This is still a problem  “… Discourse and interaction won’t happen that easily if course participants are too dispersed over different spaces. …” .The problem is not the dispersion, the problem is students did not learn to connect. A forum is not the solution, people connecting  to people is the solution.

One practical and technical solution is to make use of pingback to connect blogging  students.

In cooperative online learning  students must be encouraged to share. “If you don’t share you don’t cooperate, you don’t learn”. Learning is not reading a text twice. Learning is to manipulate information, play with information, until the  the light is shining, a connection is emerging, knowledge is being made.

Teaching to learn #cck11

If you were a teacher and you could only teach a short period of time. What topic would be absolutely necessary?  What skills and knowledge would you really have to teach before time was over?  Stephen Downes has an opinion on that.

“…It is naïve and unrealistic to assume that the use of e-learning, however it is defined, in and of itself will transform students into autonomous and self-directed learners…” writes Learner Weblog‘ John.

There are certain foundational skills necessary for learning in an open online environment. Early research indicates the need for learners to practice digital responsibility (including management of personal privacy and respectful behavior), digital literacy (ability to find and vet resources as well as differentiate between valid and questionable resources or crap detection), organization of online content, collaborating and socializing with subject matter experts and fellow students, and the ability to use online applications to synthesize content and create learning artifacts. (comment of wdrexler in (Video on this subject: A teacher is needed )

Is it possible to learn these foundational skills in a MOOC or online course? Linn Gustavsson: “…. Yes, I think so. However, most important of all: Adults (teachers) must take part, watch, comment, observe, play, learn together, or just be there, right next to the child. My students perform better in maths when their teacher are just sitting, silent, next to the student. My sisters child, has all kinds of advanced tools to play with. Still he express “I want you to sit here with me, I don´t want to play alone”. My stepson just loves the iPad and learns fast from it. Still, he often wants to show to us what he is doing and he wants us to take part. He does NOT want to learn alone. Tech-things can never replace humans. …”

Maria Droujkova :‎”… Hole in the wall” project….”  Collaboration is everything in these projects, are the children the ‘informal’ teachers?

Is the (social) network providing the human touch that Linn mentions?  In a MOOC-network one has to learn to give positive comments, and be very conscious in using peanut butter to glue the participants to the course.

Gilian writes “…Way back in 1987, Chickering and Gamson came up with seven principles of undergraduate learning design which still underpin many of today’s courses:

1 Encourages contacts between students and faculty
2 Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
3 Uses active learning techniques
4 Gives prompt feedback
5 Emphasizes time on task
6 Communicates high expectations
7 Respects diverse talents and ways of learning. …”

My question: could the ‘informal teacher’ in the network fulfill  these 7 tasks?

Focus #CCK11 “I don’t know the way, so I never get lost”

According to George Siemens Focus is an important step in doing a MOOC. (George You stated focus is an important aspect of a MOOC to you personal, I doubt if it is that important to me. In this post I want to look more into focus)

Well let’s focus on Focus.  Focus, or Attention, is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. At the neural network level, it is thought that processes like lateral inhibition mediate the process of competitive selection.In order to solve a problem or  “… Our group members all passed the exam (yay!) and we’ve got our diplomas. …”

In psychotherapy-related disciples, the term focusing is used to refer to the simple matter of holding a kind of open, non-judging attention to something which is directly experienced but is not yet in words. Focusing can be used to become clear on what one feels or wants. (Eugene Gendlin)

Did you ever focus on an aspect of the environment and because of your focussing got an accident? You looked at something or somebody and you did not see the danger that was coming?  Do not focus too much, keep an eye on the environment.
And while focussing, do not forget what is important in life,  like family or people. “… “Today is the day to talk, to reach out with open arms, to show our love, to say we are sorry, to forgive, to connect, or reconnect. Please, let’s do it before it is too late….”

Question, how does one focus in a network, Networks are a kind of group, but they are distinct in that they are defined by diversity. How does a Filipino BBQ fit into Focus? To me, the switch from the you-will-come-to-my-BBQ-and-eat-what-I-tell-you of traditional education needs to become the oh-wow-all-your-contributions-were-such-a-pleasant-surprise-and-look-how-we-enjoyed-sharing-them-and-learning-from-each-other of connectivism.

Focus needs something. It needs a field, what will you focus on, and what will be your lens? If you use a tele lens you will see very little. If you use a fish eye lens you will see everything

And what will I focus on? I guess for me the process of MOOC-ing is more important than the product. And when enjoying a process, do not focus to narrow. Try to keep an open eye for the unexpected. (serendipity)

Playing with a form and Focus:

What constitutes understanding Focus depends on your relationship to it. Discussions of Focus will seldom make reference to mental states or mental contents of the discussants. Instead, discussion will focus on the concept itself, its implications, applications, limitations, and so on.
An account on the premise that focus is a relationship with a part of the environment rather than something in the head of an individual  for instance, could be expected to reveal quite a bit about the extent and accuracy of the speaker’s understanding of Focus